The Greenland ice sheet lost 600 billion tons of ice in 2019. This is the maximum since the beginning of observations in 1948, according to a study by scientists from Columbia University, published in the journal The Cryosphere.
According to UN estimates, humanity has already heated the planet by 1.1°C compared with pre-industrial values (from 1850 to 1900). And compared to 2011-2015, the planet became warmer by 0.2°C.
Over the past 40 years, the area of Arctic sea ice has been decreasing at a rate of about 12% per decade – with the four lowest values of Arctic ice volume recorded between 2015 and 2019.
In a new work, scientists analyzed satellite images and meteorological data for summer changes in the ice cover of Greenland. The study showed that in 2019, the Greenland ice sheet lost 600 billion tons of ice.
This is the fastest annual meeting since the beginning of observations. The data obtained by the researchers means that the mass balance of the surface of the ice sheet fell by about 320 billion tons below the annual average for the period from 1981 to 2010.
The authors of the study note that the key role in such rapid melting was played not by warm weather, but by very high atmospheric pressure, which was observed in the region much more often than usual.
These conditions prevented the formation of clouds over the southern part of Greenland, which usually impede the penetration of sunlight. On the other hand, a reduction in the number of clouds has led to a decrease in the number of snowfalls that contribute to the restoration of the ice cover.